Attack on Titan S3: Thunder Spears

Welcome, one and all, to my latest weekly episode review for Attack on Titan Season Three. Today, I’m looking at the episode, Thunder Spears. Honestly, this was exactly what I expected in terms of action, but also offered a little more than I anticipated. Let’s explore.

The Art Of War

Before we get into the story moments, I want to start by discussing some of the technical aspects of the show. You see, a lot of praise is quite rightly heaped upon the high octane ODM Gear maneuvers, but this sometimes feels like it’s at the expense of some other important things that occur during battles. First up, Attack on Titan is fantastic at forced movements. By this, I mean the moments when characters are pushed into moving in a particular way. A prime example of this was when Titan Eren was ground and the Armoured Titan hauled him up into the air. The whiplash-like movement of Eren’s head and neck was excellent. It’s such a small thing, but it really stood out to me for the sheer rawness of it.

I also think that the hand-to-hand combat was worthy of praise here. The punches thrown looked solid, of course, but I want to focus more on the grappling. When it comes to Martial Arts, there are a lot of crossovers. As someone who’s worked with Wrestling, Karate, Kung-Fu, Tai Chi, Sombo and BJJ, I can tell you with certainty that grappling is approached in a similar way in all of them. The locks that Eren was throwing into the fight with the Armoured Titan were very accurate. They made sense in the situation, the joint manipulation was presented well, and the jockeying for control looked authentic.

Little things like this really help Attack on Titan to stand out in my eyes. For all the fantastical elements of the show, it’s these little nods towards realism that makes it easy to immerse yourself in. So, well done to Wit Studio for that.

Conny and Sasha are hesitant to finish off Reiner Jean Attack On Titan
To kill, or not to kill

Thunder And Lightning

This episode picked up where the last one ended, with the battle about to begin. As Erwin predicted, the plan was absolutely to cut the Scouts off. As such, while the larger Titans hold their position, a mass of smaller ones descend upon the part of the city where the horses are being kept. The idea is that, if the horses are killed, the Scouts will no way to escape and no way to get further supplies. This would mean that they can be herded on the Wall and just kept there until fatigue leaves them helpless. To combat this, Erwin splits the Scouts in two, with a few squads helping to protect the horses, while the others take care of the Armoured Titan. It’s that battle that I want to focus on here.

Erwin was worried that Reiner or Bertholdt could get into the closed-off area and kill the horses unchecked. As if to prove that, Reiner – in Armoured Titan form – starts scaling the Wall and watching the horses. Out of the blue, Eren turns Titan unprovoked and starts running. Reiner picks up on this being odd but also realizes that Eren could scale the walls and escape if left alone. So, despite sensing that this may be a trap of some sort, gives chase, effectively taking the bait.

During the battle, we see Hange leading Levi Squad, getting the Scouts to slowly surround their former comrade. We get a nice little flashback where Hange reminds us that their weapons are ineffective against Reiner’s hardened Titan skin, and we’re introduced to the Thunder Spears. We don’t initially see the weapon in action, though we do the see aftermath of what they can do to a tree. The whole thing did a great job of building up some tension as we waited to see if they would work. Not only that, but Reiner outright states that he noticed them moving in, but was confident that their weapons couldn’t harm him.

Then, it happens. Hange and Mikasa launch Thunder Spears into his unprotected eyes, and they explode, blinding him. This gives the rest of the Scouts the signal to move, and they dive in too, launching spears into his nape. They pierce the hardened skin and detonate, leaving the nape unprotected. Hange gives the order to end it, and suddenly, everyone hesitates. If all goes as planned, another attack will kill Reiner. Those present knew that this was the plan, but the reality of it sets in very quickly. Luckily, Jean manages to rally them all, and he, Sasha, Conny, and others take the sky again fire more Thunder Spears into his nape. We get a shot of Reiner inside the Armoured Titan body, realizing what’s happening, but unable to stop it. They explode as the episode ends.

So, one thing that was really cool here was how well thought out the concept was. Thunder Spears are deceptively simple as an idea, but they fit with the technology available. The team also take into account the destructive power of the weapon, and how limited a number of circumstances they can be used in. I loved the moment of hesitation, giving us a reminder that these characters really did all work closely together at one point.

It’s worth noting that we don’t know at this point if they actually killed Reiner either, so there’s still a bit of a cliffhanger there. To aid this feeling, the preview of the next episode shows Bertholdt, but not Reiner. That was nicely done and has left me looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.

The Cost Of Living

Much as Armin got to take the spotlight last week, this week saw Erwin taking the MVP spot. His planning has been meticulous, and you get the impression that he altered the finer details on the fly as required. Of course, he’s supposed to be a great leader, so that’s expected. What was interesting though was that he gave us some insight into himself here too.

Erwin has noticed that the Scouts are not as strong as they once were. He is also accepting of the fact that, without the previous sacrifices, none of them would have gotten as far as they have. He thinks back to his time as a cadet and how he truly believed his father’s theory about history being altered. Yet, when he became a Scout, he stopped talking about it. He realized that the Scouts were fighting for a greater purpose, while he was fighting only for his specific dream – to prove his father’s theory right.

Erwin rose through the ranks quickly and set about fooling himself and others into making sacrifices as they fought for humanity. Even now though, he is still drawn to the long-teased basement. He reasons that, even if today’s plan fails, he may yet live long enough to see it and find out what truths Grisha Yaeger left behind. I liked this because it showed two things about Erwin. The first is that he’s just as selfish as anyone else, still holding a need to achieve his own goals, even if all else is lost. Second, it showed that he is also perfectly capable of putting that aside for the greater good. It all makes him that much more interesting.

Reiner_stares_down_Erwin
Taking the bait

Still To Come

Obviously, we need to know if the Thunder Spears killed Reiner or not. We also have the upcoming battle with Bertholdt. Most interesting to me though is the impending battle with the Beast Titan. When Levi Squad went to tackle the Armoured Titan, Erwin asked Levi to stick back. He wanted him to help protect the horses and look for an opening to tackle the Beast Titan. This plan will be aided by Eren who, once Reiner is dealt with, is expected to scale the walls and double around the back to attack the Beast Titan from behind. That’s going to be an excellent clash, I think.

So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy this episode? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.

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